Indians 10, White Sox 4
Indians improve to 90-63 (7 games up - magic number: 3)
The last time we saw Trevor Bauer, it was leaving the mound in the sixth inning after giving up six runs to the Tigers. Tonight, he left the mound in the eighth inning to a standing ovation by the Tribe faithful.
The road to that satisfying ending was not a smooth one, though. His evening started: out, triple, two-run homer. The homer came off the bat of Melky Cabrera, and off a fastball down and in (instead of up and in), right in a left-handed hitter’s wheelhouse. Bauer then faced the minimum over the next 11 batters (a single was erased on a strikeout/throw-em-out double play).
The best play of the night had to be Jose Ramirez launching a two-run homer, then leaning back in his follow-through (see photo) for a couple seconds. That blast tied the game at two, but Bauer then made another pair of mistakes: a double, followed by a two-run homer. That pushed the White Sox ahead 4-2, and it looked like at best the Indians would have to win a tense contest.
But that’s where the offense kicked it into gear. Carlos Santana led off the fifth with a double down the right field line, Jason Kipnis reached when a Miguel Gonzalez pitch hit him on his back foot, setting the stage for the middle of the order - a middle of the order that of late has really struggled. Francisco Lindor initially attempted a bunt, but then swung away. Gonzalez uncorked a wild pitch, which effectively accomplished what a well-placed sacrifice bunt would have done. Lindor hit a sac fly to right, pushing home a third run and allowing Jason Kipnis to scamper to third. That force the White Sox to bring the infield in, and Mike Napoli took full advantage of it, lining a tying single up the middle. That ended Gonzalez’s night, and brought Chicago’s weak bullpen into play. The Indians would score two more runs that inning, and instead of being down two, ended the inning up two.
Bauer would work around a Melky Cabrera double in the sixth, and might have been pulled had the White Sox done any more damage; Jeff Manship and Kyle Crockett were warming in the bullpen during the inning. But he got through the inning, and thanks to another big inning, he’d stick around longer.
Roberto Perez was robbed by an outstanding Adam Eaton catch to begin the bottom of the sixth, but Eaton paid a severe physical cost for it. An instant after he caught the line drive in deep center, he ran shoulder-first into the wall, and lay on the ground for several minutes afterward. He walked off the field with help, looking very woozy. After the lengthy delay, the Indians would put the game out of reach, scoring four more runs. The big hits: a Mike Napoli single, a Jose Ramirez double, and a Coco Crisp single.
That outburst I think kept Bauer in the game. Had the margin remained two runs, Terry Francona probably would have gone to his bullpen, but with a six-run lead, Bauer stayed, and would record five more outs. The Indians don’t have any off days left, so because the game was over by the end of the sixth inning, none of the key relievers had to even warm up. And the long outing by Bauer is even more important considering that they are essentially going with a "bullpen game" tomorrow against Jose Quintana. Zach McAllister took over for Bauer with two outs in the eighth, throwing a perfect 1.1 innings to finish off the win.